When hand and arm pain or injuries occur, suddenly even the simplest of everyday tasks can be difficult — opening a door, lifting or gripping objects, or even washing your hair. Whether you’ve had an injury to your hands, wrists, or arms, or you’re experiencing aches and pains, don’t wait to identify the underlying issue.
“Many of the most common causes of hand pain and dysfunction can be irreversible or may require surgery if not treated early,” says Kathleen Robertson, M.D., an orthopaedic surgeon at El Paso Specialty Hospital. “It’s important to find out what noninvasive options may help you get back to functioning better, and determine whether or not you may be a surgical candidate.”
What’s causing your hand, wrist, or arm pain?
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome: Caused by pressure on your median nerve. Symptoms may include numbness, tingling, or weakness in the hand.
- Cubital Tunnel Syndrome: Caused by pressure or stretching of the ulnar (or funny bone) nerve. Symptoms include tingling or numbness in the ring and small fingers, forearm pain, or hand weakness.
- Basilar Thumb Arthritis: Caused by the wearing away of cartilage at the base of the thumb joint. Symptoms include tenderness, pain, and stiffness around the thumb.
- Tennis Elbow: Also known as lateral epicondylitis, this is a type of tendonitis caused by repetitive wrist and arm motions. Symptoms include an ache that starts outside the elbow and may develop into chronic pain if not rested and treated.
- Rotator Cuff: Pain in the rotator cuff may be caused by a tear or tendonitis. Symptoms include shoulder pain, stiffness, weakness, or trouble lifting your arm.
- Hand Arthritis: Caused by cartilage in the hand wearing down, and wear and tear on your joints as a result of injuries or infection. Symptoms include pain and stiffness.
- Tenosynovitis: Also called trigger finger, this causes the fingers or thumb to lock in a bent position. Symptoms include pain, inability to straighten your fingers or thumbs easily, or a popping sensation when you straighten your fingers or thumbs.
- Benign Tumors: Any abnormal lump or bump in your hand may be a benign tumor. The location and cause may determine whether you choose to remove the tumor.
- Trauma: Injuries to the hand, wrist, or arm may require advanced treatment or surgery depending on the type of trauma.
- Infection: When infections, including those caused by atypical mycobacterium, are left untreated in the hand, it may lead to more severe issues, including stiffness, swelling, and pain.
The most important thing to do when it comes to hand pain or injuries is to schedule an appointment with your doctor to first determine the cause. The sooner you diagnose the cause, the greater the chances of getting the right treatment for best results.
What can be done to treat hand pain?
Once diagnosed, your doctor will identify the best course of treatment to get you back to full health when possible. Most treatment plans will include the following steps:
- Modify behavior: Limit or modify movement to prevent further aggravation.
- Use a splint or brace: Stabilize your hand, wrist, or arm to allow it to rest and heal.
- Over-the-counter medications: These may help minimize pain and inflammation.
- Injections: Steroid injections may be recommended by for greater relief from pain and inflammation.
- Surgical intervention: If other treatments aren’t working or the cause of your hand pain has progressed further, your doctor may recommend surgery.
So don’t wait. If you’re experiencing pain, stiffness, or other symptoms in your hands, wrists, or arms, contact your doctor today!